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  • Writer's picturealliemacs

Why backbends aren't scary. And why you need them in your life.

Sometimes I wish the name "backbend" wasn't a thing. Doesn't that sound scary? "Hey! Want to come to a yoga class and bend your back?", and you're like "NOPE! I'm out!". I know. It can throw people off. We just haven't been taught that bending our backs is something we want to happen, let alone try to make happen!

They can also be called heart-openers and that can also freak people out. "I don't want to open my heart!" Don't worry. Although it sounds scary it's not. I'm here to break it all down so you're not scared anymore. You'll be doing backbends by the end of this post, or at least open to it I hope.

THIS is a backbend! Maybe not what you thought it was, am I right?

Backbend = Extend the Spine

Let's preface this conversation by saying that our body is made to move in different ways, 6 ways actually. Our spine can move forward (flex), move backward (extend - aka backbend), rotate laterally (side to side), and rotate both ways (twist). The crazy thing is, if we stop moving our body in a certain way, our body will think we no longer need that function, and it'll turn it off! This is when things start to feel really stiff and that tissue gets all built up in that spot. That is why it is SOOOOO important to move your body and your spine in all the ways it was made to move on a regular basis.

Spine Extension: The Long Lost Movement

All the movements of the spine are equally important for a healthy spine but extending the spine is the lost movement of this day and age. Why, you ask? Well, let me turn it around and ask you, what are we all doing these days? Many of us are hunched over at a computer for a majority of your day. Or driving. And you're not in those categories, you're guilty of the next thing - looking down at our phones or devices. Gotcha. Most of us are guilty. We are spending our time in flexion of the spine. Which is not a bad movement - like I said, ALL the movements of the spine are equally important. But how many of us are spending the same amount of time in spine extension? Thaat's what I thought. This is why backbends are important - they extend the spine and counteract the forward bend movement that a lot of us are doing more than we should.

extending the spine can help strengthen the back

When we are hunched over at our computers or looking at our phones, our muscles in our chest and the front of our body are in constantly contracted (shortened) - and our muscles in the back are constantly being stretched out. Then tissue starts to build up in these places when we don't move them (because our body thinks since we haven't moved them in so long that we don't need to anymore. Yikes, we don't want that! What needs to happen here? We need to strengthen the back muscles and stretch out the front ones! If we strengthen the back muscles it will help us have the posture we want. This is why backbends are so amazing and so necessary.

Sometimes I have this vision, or nightmare I guess I should call it, that the future generations will all be little hunchbacks because they've spend decades upon decades of looking at their devices. Then I realize that we are all much smarter that that, and that's why I'm here along with so many others, to help educate people to move their bodies (in all the ways!)

Here are some active backbends/heart-openers/extensions (whatever the heck you want to call them). These are great for strengthening your back!

-Cactus Arms

-Cobra Pose

-Bridge Pose

-Locust (Superman)




Check in with Yourself

Do yourself favor. During your day, just try to notice what your common posture is. Just notice. Don't get mad or be hard on yourself - just notice. And then after you start to notice, try to do some counteractive movements. Roll your shouldblades back and down. Twist if you've been sitting facing the same direction all day.

Am I right? If you've stayed with me this long, I hope you've done maybe even a itty bitty backbend. Even just rolling your shoulders back and down perhaps? And my hope is that you're not scared of the the word "backbend" anymore. Mission accomplished!

Stay bendy and open my friends! (or get there if you're not - it takes time, but it can happen!)

Peace XO Allie

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